Monday, September 29, 2014

Get Natural Scrolling in Windows Without Administrator Access


I use a Mac at home but a PC running Windows 7 at work. By default, the two operating systems scroll in the opposite direction in response to the same mouse input and trying to switch between the two is maddening. I prefer the ‘natural’ scrolling on OS X but Windows 7 doesn’t provide a way to flip its scrolling direction without administrator access. This created a frustrating situation when I.T. refused to edit any registry settings or install uncertified third-party software.

Thankfully, I stumbled onto a simple solution today that works without Administrator access:

Long story short, download this, run it and you should be experiencing natural scrolling in its full glory.

If you like it, feel free to stick it in your Startup folder. If you don’t, feel free to press the Delete key. If you don’t feel like running some random .exe, get the AutoHotKey script from here and make your own.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wall Street’s Bond King Makes Abrupt Departure From Pimco   


Matthew Goldstein, reporting for The New York Times:

William H. Gross, who helped build Pimco from scratch into a $2 trillion mutual fund behemoth over four decades, abruptly quit on Friday for a much smaller firm.

The surprising exit came after Mr. Gross learned in recent weeks that top executives at Pimco and Allianz, the German insurer that owns it, had grown tired of his leadership and were weighing a change.

The Wayne Gretzky of bonds has just been traded.

Time Served   


Harley Rustad, writing for The Walrus:

When its gates shut for the final time in September 2013, Kingston Penitentiary was among North America’s oldest operating prisons. Notorious killers—Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, Russell Williams—slept in its cells and exercised in its yards, but James didn’t focus on the lives and personal effects of infamous inmates.

“My whole thing was predicated on privacy,” the former Time magazine reporter turned photographer explains. “Nobody was identified. The inmates all had to sign releases; it took months to get permissions. But I had to get that clear: This isn’t about any of the sensational stuff. It’s about prison life, an institutional historical record, and the physical space.

iPhone camera evolution   


Lisa Bettany, co-founder of the popular mobile photography app Camera+:

In this follow-up post to my iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 comparisons, I present an 8 iPhone comparison from all iPhone versions taken with Camera+ including, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and the new iPhone 6 in a variety of situations to test the camera’s capabilities.

A fantastic comparison using clever 8-slice side-by-side sample photos. The improvement in camera quality from generation to generation is quite impressive. That said, from the very few photos I’ve taken with my iPhone 6 so far, I can’t say that I’m blown away with the camera quality. The majority of photos I’ve taken have been in poor lighting conditions, and the iPhone seems to severely overcompensate with its noise reduction algorithm.

I am used to shooting RAW photos with a Canon EOS M or Canon 7D. I’d love the option to shoot in RAW mode on the iPhone rather than being held captive to Apple’s idea of a “good” photo. I rarely took photos with my iPhone 4 because the quality always frustrated me compared to a decent point-and-shoot or DSLR. I’m hopeful that won’t be the case with the iPhone 6, but after just a few outings it appears I can’t sell my Canons just yet.

(Via The Loop)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Delete2Archive for OS X 10.9.5


Yesterday, Apple released OS X 10.9.5, the fifth update to Mavericks.

Interestingly, this update appears to contain the exact same version of as the prior version of OS X so the Delete2Archive plugin should continue working without any issues.

However, to avoid any confusion for those looking for a version of Delete2Archive that explicitly states it is compatible with the latest OS X release, I’ve made a new zip file for 10.9.5. It has the exact same contents as the 10.9.4 zip file, just a different name. Follow the installation instructions and download the new version of the plugin from the Delete2Archive page.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Series of Unfortunate (Apple) Events


Apple prides itself on producing consumer products that ‘just work’ by successfully combining hardware, software, and services. Unfortunately, the company has experienced a series of high-profile blunders in recent weeks, highlighting that they too aren’t always perfect.

iCloud Security

In late August, news broke that revealing personal photographs of female celebrities had been stolen and distributed online. Apple’s iCloud storage was directly implicated in the scandal:

Anonymous posters on the online message board 4chan — where the photos first surfaced — alleged that the images were obtained from iCloud accounts. The first ones to appear were sexually explicit images of Lawrence, 24, who acknowledged through her publicist that private material had been stolen.

Subsequent reporting identified other potential sources for the stolen photos such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Snapchat. In an official statement, Apple clarified that specific iCloud accounts were the subject of targeted attacks but that Apple’s systems were not breached:

We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.

But by this point the damage was already done: countless reports identified iCloud as the root of the problem and articles were written with step-by-step instructions for disabling iCloud. The timing couldn’t have been worse, with Apple’s announcement of Apple Pay – a payment service reliant on trusting Apple – just days away.

Live Stream of iPhone 6 and Apple Watch Event

On September 9, Apple held a special event to announce the iPhones 6 and the highly-anticipated Apple Watch. The company’s marketing abilities were in full force leading up to the event, building anticipation for a product launch like only Apple can. For those that didn’t receive invitations to the event, Apple announced a live video stream accessible over the web or Apple TV.

Unfortunately, the stream had some serious issues, as documented by Simon Fredsted:

Excited to watch Apple’s new innovative products, millions of people tuned in to the live webcast where Tim Cook revealed iPhone 6, Apple Pay and Apple Watch.

As someone following the live stream while it happened, monitoring twitter feeds live chats during the event, one thing became clear to me immediately as the stream started to play: something was totally wrong with the stream.

On the surface, everything seemed to go well when the stream started playing around 15 minutes before the event. We saw video of the hall the event took place in, in beautiful HD, but something was off. Not everyone noticed this immediately, but I did: two songs were playing on top of each other. It sounded horrible to my ears.

As Fredsted goes on to explain, the live stream got worse from there with audio errors, dropouts, and feed restarts. As Tim Cook took the stage, his voice was obscured by a Chinese translator. This was definitely not the way Apple wanted millions of onlookers to experience the Apple Watch for the first time.

U2 Album Giveaway

Towards the end of the September 9 event, Apple got the live stream working smoothly, just in time for a live performance by U2 and a pretty big music announcement: the band’s new album, ‘Songs of Innocence’ would be gifted to all iTunes customers as a thank you from Apple. As a U2 fan, this was a great treat from my perspective and certainly more of a surprise than the design of the iPhones 6 which had leaked weeks before the official announcement.

Unfortunately for Apple and U2, not everyone appreciated the gesture as much as me:

To put it lightly, Apple’s “gift” of a free U2 album hasn’t been warmly received by everyone. And it seems the company has heard the chorus of complaints loud and clear. As of today, Apple’s offering an easy way to permanently erase Songs of Innocence with a single click. Doing so immediately removes U2’s latest album from your iTunes music library and iTunes purchase history. Apple has even set up a support website to guide people through the process.

I feel bad for Apple and U2 on this one. I doubt anyone could have predicted the backlash that giving away a free album (from one of the biggest bands in history no less) would generate, especially since the album could be hidden from day one (although not completely removed from one’s purchase history).

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Preorders

As it has done in the past, Apple announced that it would accept pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus beginning on September 12. While Apple didn’t specify an exact time, many speculated that the company would open the flood gates at midnight Pacific Time. In the lead up to 12:00 AM PT, the Apple Store went offline with its typical “we’ll be back” message.

When my alarm woke me at 11:50 PM PT, I groggily crawled out of bed and loaded the Apple website on my iMac. Like many, I periodically refreshed the page as midnight approached, but instead of being greeted by the pre-order page I anticipated I kept seeing the “we’ll be back” message. Then, a few minutes past midnight, the Apple website stopped loading all together, throwing a random server error instead. Apparently I wasn’t the only person awake in the middle of the night trying to give Apple my money. According to Macworld, I wasn’t the only one that experienced problems either:

Apple, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon began taking orders for the new phones, which hit store shelves Sept. 19, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific/3:01 a.m. Eastern. The process is the same as it always was: Stay awake (or wake up insanely early) and spend an hour trying to get through the ordering process without punching your computer in frustration. But this year, preordering the iPhone was especially infuriating.

After 15 to 20 minutes of unsuccessfully attempts to access the Apple pre-order site from my iMac and the Apple Store app on my iPad, my anticipation turned to disappointment and eventually to frustration. I eventually gave up and went back to bed, resigned to the possibility of being stuck with my iPhone 4 for a few more weeks/months.

Luckily for me, I had to be up early for work the next morning (around 4:00 AM PT) and by that time the pre-order site was working properly. In about 60 seconds I was able to pre-order my beloved iPhone 6 128GB in Space Grey with an expected September 19 delivery. In the end, no harm done.

As if the server errors and delayed pre-order launch weren’t enough, Apple made another mistake on its Canadian website, as reported by the Huffington Post:

The new iPhone 6 is available for pre-order on the site. But click on the link titled “More details about iPhone delivery dates,” and you will get a map of Canada riddled with errors. Ottawa is where Toronto is. Toronto seems to be somewhere near Cornwall, Ont. Edmonton is northwest of Calgary, instead of northeast. And Vancouver Island appears to be a peninsula attached to the mainland.

Given Apple’s history with maps, this error was particularly humorous and gained a lot of attention in Canada.

It’s been an extremely busy fall for Apple news and announcements. Unfortunately a lot of that news has focused on mistakes and issues rather than shiny new products and services. But despite all the bad news, Apple seems to be doing just fine, having just announced a record 4 million iPhone 6 pre-orders in the first 24 hours of availability.

UPDATE: HealthKit Bug

On September 17, Apple released iOS 8 to the public. But as Steven Musil reports for CNET, the release coincided with third-party developers having their apps removed from the App Store without notice due to a bug in Apple’s new HealthKit framework:

Apple said a bug in its HealthKit health and fitness application platform prevented its release alongside the launch the iOS 8 operating system for iPhones and iPads.

HealthKit gathers data such as blood pressure and weight from various health apps on Apple devices, and can be viewed by doctors in one place.

Regulated medical devices, such as glucose monitors with accompanying iPhone apps, can send information to HealthKit.

“We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month,” a company spokesperson said in an email on Wednesday.

Apple has also pulled some healthcare apps from its app store that connect with HealthKit, such as MyFitnessPal and Carrot Fit.

UPDATE 2: Major iOS 8.0.1 Bug

On September 24, Apple released iOS 8.0.1 to address the aforementioned HealthKit bug and allow HealthKit-reliant apps to return to the App Store. Unfortunately, for users like myself with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, the update disabled both cellular service and Touch ID. As Darrell Etherington reported for TechCrunch, Apple quickly pulled the iOS 8.0.1 update from availability to limit the number of affected customers:

Apple has pulled the iOS 8.0.1 update from availability, a fix is likely incoming. For now, it appears to only affect iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users. An Apple spokesperson provided us with the following statement:

“We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update. We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”

This is a huge embarrassment for Apple, made worse by the long series of mistakes that came before it. My guess is that the pressure to quickly address the well-publicized HealthKit bug led to some quality-assurance corners being cut prior to releasing this update. If that is the case, it highlights a lack of maturity on Apple’s part: rather than meticulously addressing the HealthKit bug, it appears they rushed a fix to market which actually compounded the problem by introducing new, more serious bugs.

If you upgraded to iOS 8.0.1 before it was pulled back, you can revert to iOS 8.0 by connecting your device to a computer running iTunes, as described in this support article from Apple. When I originally tried to follow these steps, I got a cryptic iTunes error. I disabled iTunes WiFi Sync, then disconnected and reconnected the lightning cable to my phone. Reverting to iOS 8.0 then worked without loosing any of my data or settings.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Apple Dominating Shipping Capacity Out of China with New iPhones   


Speaking of Apple’s recent press event, Matthew Panzarino writes for TechCrunch about the sheer volume of Apple’s product shipments:

According to several sources, Apple has already begun flexing its supply chain muscles by shipping so many units of upcoming devices from its manufacturing facilities to sales outlets that it is causing delays for other manufacturers.

Apple shipments via major concerns like FedEx and UPS are said to be ‘incredibly high’ for the holiday quarter, pointing to a massive number of iPhones and whatever other units Apple announces for the fall season incoming. The company is apparently flooding its channels with devices, causing shipments for other ‘top tier’ device makers to be delayed to make way for Apple products.


A pilot (and MacRumors reader) has posted photos from inside a Boeing 747, showing what he claims are 195,000 iPhones 6 destined for Chicago.

Yep, that’s what I do. I fly stuff. Privileged to be a small part of the Apple supply chain. Just landed a 747 full of iPhone 6’s in Anchorage. Another crew will take the airplane on to Chicago. It’ll be on the ground at O’hare about 9am Sept. 15. I gave it a little extra gas coming over the Pacific, just to get them here a little quicker. You’re welcome :).

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout   


Gretchen Reynolds, writing for The New York Times Magazine back in May 2013:

Exercise science is a fine and intellectually fascinating thing. But sometimes you just want someone to lay out guidelines for how to put the newest fitness research into practice.

An article in the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal does just that. In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.

Despite playing lots of sports in my youth, I’ve become pretty sedentary since graduating from University. I don’t like going to the gym so this seems like a great option for someone like me. It’s something I can do in my spare time, in my own home, without any special equipment.

With help from the well designed but terribly named ‘7 Minute Workout “Seven” with High Intensity Interval Training Challenge‘ I am going to see if I can stick with this for the next seven months.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa   


Drs. Jim Yong Kim and Paul Farmer, co-founders of Partners in Health, writing in an op-ed for The Washington Post:

But the reality is this: The Ebola crisis today is a reflection of long-standing and growing inequalities of access to basic health care. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone do not have the staff, stuff and systems required to halt the outbreak on their own. According to its ministry of health, before the outbreak Liberia had just 50 doctors working in public health facilities serving a population of 4.3 million.

To halt this epidemic, we need an emergency response that is equal to the challenge. We need international organizations and wealthy countries that possess the required resources and knowledge to step forward and partner with West African governments to mount a serious, coordinated response as laid out in the World Health Organization’s Ebola response roadmap.